Could more homicide cases be solved by using grand juries?

Watch Thursday on NewsChannel 15 at 6

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – In Indiana, someone can be charged with a crime two ways: charging information brought by the prosecutor or a grand jury indictment. While grand juries aren’t used often, and many cases don’t need them, some argue there are cases that are able to be solved because of using a grand jury.

The last time a grand jury was used by the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office was in 2001. Former Chief Deputy Prosecutor Michael Loomis argues more of the city’s homicides could be solved by using grand juries.

One argument is that if a witness won’t talk to police, he or she can be subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury. Because grand jury proceedings are secret, unless they tell someone they testified, no one would ever know.

“You have the ability to compel witnesses to testify and that’s important when the excuse for not doing investigations is that everyone seemed to be in the bathroom at the same time. That doesn’t stand when you have a grand jury investigation because you can issue a subpoena to compel those people to come forward and testify and their failure to cooperate potentially could be contempt of court,” Loomis said.

But current Allen County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Michael McAlexander said a grand jury subpoena is not a magic bullet.

“This idea that the grand jury can bring everyone in and make them testify by handing them a subpoena is not true and it does a disservice to continue to say that,” McAlexander said.

On Thursday, 15 Finds Out digs deeper into the benefits and challenges of grand juries. Hear why McAlexander said Allen County doesn’t use grand juries and why a Marion County deputy prosecutor called them a vital tool. Could more homicides be solved with grand juries? Don’t miss The Jury’s Out, Thursday at 6.